Opinion

Limitless spending opportunity? Contactless cards with fingerprint scanning hit the market

4 min read

04 January 2018

Deputy editor

Contactless payment cards featuring finger-reading biometric sensors have now been introduced in what’s billed a “world’s first”, which could make shopping faster and more secure than ever.

Digital security specialist Gemalto is behind the creation of the payment breakthrough – a biometric payment card that supports contactless purchases for Europay, Mastercard and Visa with fingerprint scanning.

It works on the basis that customers will use the fingerprint scanning support via the card’s biometric sensor, rather than chip and pin. The first launch is in partnership with the Bank of Cyprus, though Real Business spoke to Gemalto to clarify whether the UK will experience the fingerprint scanning cards – the answer looks to be a yes.

“We are in early discussion with some UK banks. First trials should happen this year,” the spokesperson told us.

In the UK, fingerprint scanning will be particularly useful, as it will allow consumers to bypass the £30 contactless payment limit. Indeed, contactless has proven to be incredibly popular nationwide, which resulted in the previous £20 contactless limit being increased back in 2015.

More recently in August 2017, a Barclaycard study found that retailers had continued to experience sales increases since the contactless limit rise to £30. As a result, a fifth think a limit of £100 would be more suitable.

While chip and pin limits may not be an issue, the payment method is not nearly as fast or convenient as contactless. Combine that with a busy retailer who doesn’t want to lose out on trade due to impatient shoppers, and it’s easy to see why contactless is so attractive.

Upon hearing about the fingerprint scanning contactless cards though, Real Business questioned Gemalto about the limits its cards would have, only to hear there may not be one.

“Theoretically, no more spending limit for contactless thanks to security brought by the fingerprint verification,” the spokesperson said.

“In practice, some countries can decide to apply an upper limit (for example a few hundred Euros) but there will be much more flexibility than the current £30 current limit. In the UK, the transactions should be limitless, just like with an iPhone and Apple Pay.”


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Users of the Bank of Cyprus cards will be required to register in their bank where the fingerprint scanning will take place. The biometric data itself will be stored securely on the card, rather than in the cloud, confirming authenticity when a purchase takes place.

“Bank of Cyprus customers will be first in the world to enjoy biometric convenience on a contactless payment card. Gemalto’s biometric sensor payment card is designed to provide maximum security and data privacy” said Bertrand Knopf, Gemalto’s executive VP of banking and payment.

“Using biometrics for contactless payments is a natural move as it fits in naturally with the gesture used to pay. It allows a better user experience, enabling higher transaction amounts without entering a PIN while benefiting from the convenience of contactless.”

While retailers and consumers stand to benefit from the development, there’s every chance that fingerprint scanning could be evolved to support B2B transactions.

“The solution will be primarily targeting the consumers for the extra convenience it brings,” the spokesperson started.

“But we envisage more use cases for the future, including business / B2B. For example, in the future the card when paired with a reader or by tapping on a NFC mobile phone could be used to make online transactions more secure or for digital signature.”

Find out more on how fingerprint scanning will take in the video place below.